WORK on a massive council run solar farm in Rhondda Cynon Taf which could offset more than 1,000 tonnes of carbon a year looks set to start in 2024.
An update for the council’s climate change cabinet steering group on Thursday, December 21 confirmed planning permission was given for the project on November 23 and subject to funding approval construction will be able to start during 2024.
The solar farm will be on council owned land located at Coed Ely, on an 84-acre “terraced” former colliery site, near Tonyrefail with some of the power generated going to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.
The project has the potential to ‘offset’ over 1,100 tonnes of carbon a year and around 47,000 tonnes over the expected 40 year life-cycle of the project.
It will be a six megawatt solar farm with five megawatts connected to the national grid and one megawatt to be connected to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, through a private wire arrangement.
The committee report said good progress has been made on the heads of terms for the private wire connection agreement and power purchase agreement with the hospital which has now been agreed by both parties.
The report said that the private wire part of the project will need to be partly completed during the spring of 2024, to coincide with completion of the A4119 road scheme in early summer.
A heads of terms agreement has also been established with the local farmer, who is a tenant with historic access to and over the land with grazing rights.
The full agreement, when completed, will safeguard the future management of the land on which the solar farm is to be built, the report said.
The intention is that the tenant will make a positive contribution to the future running of the council’s proposed asset, and also help in
enhancing biodiversity at the site.
Development costs for the project for the current financial year 2023/24 are estimated at around £400,000 and these costs have been met from within existing budgets.
The previous budget estimate for the full development and construction costs for the entire project have now been reassessed taking into account high inflation, additional information and current market conditions.
The estimated budget requirement is just over £9.6m and includes all identified development costs and allowance for the private wire installation.
Funding options are currently being looked at to allow the project to progress and the report said that officers are continuing to monitor the availability of grant funding to help with the cost of developing the solar farm.
Applications have been approved by Ystadau Cymru that provided £75,000 worth of grant development funding towards project spend in the financial year 2022/23, with an extra £250,000 awarded for 2023/24, which will be spent if the project receives approval to proceed.
The report said: “This project will be primarily developed by the council and as such would both contribute to the increase in the renewable energy provision and carbon reduction/offsetting in the area, whilst also making a positive, long term, economic contribution to the financial situation of the council, for the benefit of citizens.”
It said the project has the potential to generate a long-term income for the council, over and above the term cost of financing and operating the scheme and can provide a financial benefit once this term has passed.